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Archive for February, 2008

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After reading Matthew and Hebrews a few time it becomes quite obvious that there are some verses that causes or should at least cause a believer, no matter how seasoned he is, to examine themselves and immediately preach the Gospel to themselves. When I am being unmerciful, impatient, unkind, selfish, self-righteous, and stingy these verses spring to front of my mind as if they are purifying me. In addition to both Matthew and Hebrews we see the words of the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul when he says in 2 Corinthians 13:

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

Paul admonishes the Church at Corinth with these very sobering words! Why? He has written them previously (this is the third letter) and uses this verse as to say “if you are not heeding my warnings, they you are not in the faith”. I think the rest of the bible becomes our litmus test. Are we measuring up? Are we growing in grace and knowledge, are we growing in love with the Church, are finding ourselves to be growing in humility, patience, kindness, compassion, mercy? Is our zeal for the things of the world shrinking while are zeal for the things of God growing? Are we learning how to yield ourselves to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is our appetite for God’s word driving us to study it, to listen to it, to desire it more than television? Do we have an unquenchable desire to share Christ with a dying world? If the answer is a no, but I want it then these verses are motivators, if the answer to this is yes but I know it is only by the Grace of God then these verses are motivators, if your answer to this is no and I don’t care, take heed because these verses are screaming with a bullhorn to the deepest parts of your soul and you should tremble with fear. So lets check them out shall we.

Matthew 7

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

This my friend was the start of me dying to self-righteousness and running to the throne of Grace. I said to myself “self, you are okay, you are doing some great things, look at the rest of the pew potatoes” then whalah! These verses rubbed up against me like a grater on a soft block of cheese and they were very abrasive! I thought to myself how is this possible. Look at the verses again “not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord”! Now hopefully you have heard a clear exposition on this before, but I hadn’t, when I met these verses for the first time (I had passed them in the mall a couple of times, even sat next to them in a coffee shop, but we were never formally introduced you see). I started to think they acknowledge that Jesus was Lord and even recognized him, well what about 1 John 4 “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God“. Then Romans 10:9-10 came to mind. They had to confess Jesus right? They had to recognize His Lordship, Jesus makes that clear in the opening section of the verse. So how did this work. Then it dawned on me. They professed Him, but He didn’t know them!

We ask the next obvious question. But, but Jesus knows everybody, He is God correct? Well yes and no! The greek language does us a favor by using to words that are rendered “know” in the english language one is “eidon” the other is “ginōskō” the first means to perceive or to see the other is to know intimately and is even a Jewish idiom for sexual intercourse. Which one do you think Jesus was using? Ding, Ding, Ding he used the word “ginōskō”. If you go up a few verses Jesus makes it clear that you can only enter in the narrow way. If you have ever read or saw “Pilgrims Progress” John Bunyan conveys this beautifully. So those who tried to sneak in through the back door, or bypass the narrow way and chose the broad road, we are given a clear picture of what will happen to them. There is much to be said but I will move on to the one that causes the biggest concern for me.

Hebrews 6:

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.

Now if you are a Pastor, a small group leader, a spouse, or just a plain ol single Christian walking as a priest before God this should be like fingernails on a chalkboard. I rather hear County and Blues being played back to back for 5 days straight than here this scripture being read. I used to struggle so much, and still do sometimes, with these verses. I used to because I have a decent understanding of what is saying now, versus my old Pentecostal days when I would argue with those who believed the silly doctrine “once saved always saved or OSAS”. I still struggle with it because as far as we can tell safe Christianity is punted with this section of scriptures.

Let me explain what I think the verse is saying and would love some feedback on it. We first have to ask what does it mean “to be enlightened, to tasted and to share”? These words are strong words that seems to be conveying that this person was truly saved. When asked this question by someone you can’t ignore that these words are used in other places to denote saving faith or at least insinuate it. The next question is does “impossible” really mean impossible? Those are the hardest things to get around in this section of Hebrews. The next question is if Christ has already resurrected how is that we can nail Him back to the cross and crucify Him again.

I believe that key lies at the end of the verse. The writer says “for the land that drinks the rain” and then he goes on to talk about producing crops or thorns. It sounds a lot like Matthew 13 to me which is the other scary portion of scripture for me. In Matthew 13 the seed was good, but the soil was the problem. At the end of this section the rain is good but the land is the problem the writer says “but if”. So in both sections the seed isn’t the problem, the seed isn’t the problem but the soil/land is! Thus I think we have an idea. I believe a person (soil, stony ground, wayside) can partake, taste, and be enlightened (the Seed which is the Gospel)  but still never produce fruit. Why? Because they are bad soil/land! You can have the best farmer, the greatest brand of crops, and the flowing waters of the Nile and still not produce a crop because of the soil you are attempting to cultivate. Bad land is a farmers nightmare! The only thing to be done with it is fertilize it, cultivate and pray that God will do something with it. The same with a person who can sit in church, Sunday after Sunday, teach Sunday School, sing in the choir, lead bible studies, be faithful attendees and givers while at the same time, being soil that will never produce any fruit.

I believe Judas to be the case example for such a statement. He saw the miracles, heard the Gospel night in and night out, participated in the feeding of the five thousand, was sent out two by two to proclaim the good news, saw Lazarus raised from the dead, saw Jesus walk on water, heard the confession of Peter, and other such things and he was called a devil by Jesus. So not only did he know Jesus he even partook in most of Jesus’ public ministry. Listen people, there are countless stories of people who were Pastors 50 years, served in every ministry possible, went to seminary, mission trips, maybe even saw miracles performed, but at some point they couldn’t fake the funk anymore! The folded like a house of cards. They came to conclusion that what they were doing was a hoax and as the parable says “the thorns choked them out”. Now some people aren’t as bold as Judas or the other fellas who come right out and say “we don’t believe you Jesus” they continually go through the motions, they continually do good works, the continually “prophesy in your name, cast out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name” and they will hear in that day “DEPART FROM ME”.  This should scare all pastors and anyone else with any type of shepherd responsibilities right out of their socks. This should keep every pastor up late at night and it should keep us up late also.

In closing, we have to examine ourselves but shepherds have to examine the sheep put in their care. The only way this examination will be properly executed is through the unadulterated preaching of the Gospel. We have to be convinced through the preaching of the Gospel that we are Christs and He is ours. But if the church is full of good moral stories, how to reposition ourselves, or how to go “rebuild the city” without understanding “What God Demands from the World” we are in serious trouble. Many will sit comfortably being prepared like a fat cow for dinner. The fires of hell are nipping at their feet all the while the Gospel is being overlooked and ignored by those who are to convey it the most. These are the Keys to the Kingdom Jesus is talking about. This is the rock that motivates Jesus to tell Peter “blessed are you Simon”. This is where true deliverance, power, authority and kingdom living is experienced. This is where the beatitudes are lived out. This his how you love the sheep and lay your life down for them. We have to stop giving people what they want and give them what they need. Even if that means that dislike you for it. Even if they don’t want to talk to you and they call us bigots, narrow-minded, self-righteous, foolish (they called Paul and Jesus fools also) dumb, uneducated, mystics, bubble heads, and so forth. Even if they fold their arms and poke out their bottom lips and say “I am leaving this boring Church”! Let them leave at least you can be like Paul who said in Acts 20 “I did not shrink away from preaching the WHOLE COUNSEL”!  We have everything that every human needs. The Gospel! I sign off with the words of the Spirit through Paul “for I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for IT IS the power of God unto salvation to those who believe…..”!

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As most of you who visit this site may well know. I love Holy Hip Hop (HHH or 3H). Some of my brothers and sisters in the faith believes that this genre of music is unacceptable to God. The funny thing is that I read the bible and it really doesn’t say anything about it so unless someone got an email or recent fax from heaven, I might have to pull out the….. blam!!!! Legalism Card! LOL!!! Anyway the first song that plays when you come to the site is by Flame featuring Tedahshi (both solid brothers in the Lord, rapping is just a venue to proclaim the gospel, both are solid and loving husbands) and is an album called “Our World Fallen” well this project actually has two phases one to proclaim the depravity of the world and two to proclaim the redemption of it through the Blood of the Lamb! You know everytime I think of the Gospel and what was actually accomplished on the cross tears form in the corner of my eyes. Anway mark your calenders for March 4th as Marcus AKA Flame releases his fourth album “Our World Redeemed” you can sample some of the tracks here (4 to be exact).

If you know much about Flame his music is usually theologically heavy, urban engaging, and doctrinally sound and relevant. He speaks to a generation that has been forsaken by my grandmother’s and mother’s generation. Our pants are too low, our hair too long and our music to pulsating. Flame attempts to bridge the Gap between the lost and the Cross by using hip hop as the venue. I am very excited about this album and will provide a review no later than March 10th. I will critique the beats, lyrics and doctrinal soundness of the album. Please support the brother by picking up the album anywhere Christian music is sold and you can encourage him by contacting him here at his personal website.

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The Folks at Monergism has made Dr. Art’s 81 part series on the book of Revelation free you only pay shipping cost which could be as low 3.99 and as high as 17.99. This is an awesome opportunity to hear a different perspective. Frank C. hipped me to this and I thank you greatly bro! The link to the CDs are here.

 artinoffice1.jpg Check out this excerpt

Does the Church Replace Israel?
by Dr. Arturo Azurdia III

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this: ‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.” (Revelation 2:8)

… Poverty as a consequence of slander and accusations …. The source of their persecution: the Romans. Fomenting the Roman persecution was the inciting accusations of ethnic Israelites about whom Jesus here says are not worthy of that ancient and honorable name. “I know the slander [blasphemy] by those who say they are Jews and are not.” My friends that is a profoundly important statement. When we watch the flow of redemptive history, the storyline of the Bible unfold and we move from the epic of promise into the epic of fulfillment, God’s people are no longer defined genealogically, they are defined Christologically … Christocentrically. You say “what do you mean?” True Jews are those who follow Jesus as their Messiah. They are characterized by a birth not of the flesh, but of the Spirit. They are marked out by a circumcision not of the flesh but of the heart. So who then are these people? These people who claim to be Jews by virtue of their bloodline, but according to Jesus himself, they are not. Jesus defines them for us: “They are a synagogue of Satan.” It is like what Jesus says to the unbelieving Pharisees in John chapter 8, who claimed the paternity of Abraham. He says: “You are of your father the devil.” You see beloved, this is why we need to think clearly at this point. This is what is so utterly wrong today when people refer to the Judeo-Christian God. [They say] “Christians and Jews really in the end worship the same God.” NO! …To reject Jesus Christ is to reject the full and final revelation of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The truth is there is no such thing as an orthodox Jew, beloved, unless he is a Christian because if the Jews really believed in the Old Testament they would believe in Jesus Christ. If a person does not believe in Jesus Christ then, according to John chapter 5, then he does not believe in Moses either. “Moses spoke of me,” Jesus said. And so Paul says in Romans chapter 2 “A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly nor is circumcision merely outward and physical”, no “a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly and circumcision is circumcision of the heart by the Spirit not the written code.”

Now friends, people often ask me, “Do you believe that the church replaces Israel. The answer is “no of course not!!!” The church does not replace Israel. The fact is, Jewish people who reject Jesus Christ are apostate from Israel. Following Jesus Christ is the ultimate expression of true Judaism. Everything in the Old Testament pointed to Him. Israel and the church, then, are not in radical discontinuity, rather, the later is the consummated expression of the former. Beloved, a failure to appreciate that has profoundly determined strange things in our [own] country. By virtue of the influence of American evangelicalism we say silly things like “Always side with Israel, no matter what Israel does always side with Israel. God will take care of America if we always side with Israel. They are God’s people.” [But] Jesus says they are a synagogue of Satan. And is there a reason then why American evangelicals are notoriously ineffective in their evangelism of Arabs?

[Jesus is] The full, final, ultimate expression of Judaism. You are Abraham’s seed. C’mon … Tear those pages out of your study Bibles.

Excerpt from Dr. Arturo Azurdia III’s 81 part series on the Book of Revelation.

Related Resources:
Do Jews Have a Divine Right in the Promised Land? by John Piper

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This is a very sobering and convicting article by Jim Eliff. This is my co-laborer Tyris’ pastor and is a wonderful man and teacher. Read it and let it penetrate your heart:

What About Your Relatives?

Jim ElliffYou may be willing to cross the ocean to speak for God, but have you remembered your relatives’ need for Christ?

extended family

In the New Testament, we find new believers confronting their own family first with the gospel. One writer calls this “oikos evangelism.” The word “oikos” means “household” in the language of the New Testament.

A model for reaching our families is found in the first encounter Andrew had with Jesus. Read what it motivated him to do:

“He found first his own brother Simon [Peter], and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which translated means Christ). He brought him to Jesus” (John 1:42-42a).

It begins right at home.

What are you doing to introduce Christ to your immediate family? There are many ways to do this. For one, having times of family Bible reading and prayer has a great history in evangelism. When children are young, reading the historical sections can be most easily digested by their immature minds. Reading the lives of great Christians and evangelistic books can also be helpful.

It goes without saying that we should plant our family in a true church where the Bible is believed and where the gospel of free grace is presented clearly. Carefully chosen camps and youth activities may also help. One way to help your children know Christ is to ask them to conduct interviews with godly men and women you respect, finding out all they can about how they came to Christ and how life has gone for them.

What about the extended family?

Some friends of mine have made a long list of all their relatives. They carefully wrote out their testimony and an introductory letter (with a personalized note) and slipped it into a book we provided that explains the gospel. This was sent to parents, brothers and sisters, cousins, nieces and nephews. The resulting conversations and changes have been remarkable.

Some of you have relatives that may soon die. Do you really want to let them slip into hell without a clear explanation of the gospel? Aren’t you the one to do that?

A friend’s father was old, blind, and grumbling about life. He sent some literature to his brother and asked him to begin reading it to their father in the retirement home. Much to their surprise the man was converted and has become an excited believer, though he is over 90 years old!

Admittedly, some relatives are difficult to talk to. But that should not keep us from trying. One way to deal with such strong “resisters” is to be more forthcoming about arranging a time to talk it out. Instead of waiting for the opportune moment, just state, “Dad (or whoever it is), you know that I am concerned about you having a true relationship with Christ. I need to talk straight with you about it at least once. Let’s plan for this and have nothing to distract us. How about this week on Tuesday night?”

It should be noted that sometimes people resist because they are under conviction about their need for Christ. Avoiding discussion is their only way to keep it at a comfortable distance. God can reach anyone if He wishes, even the person who seems the most incorrigible. Take literature with you and sincerely ask them to read it and talk with you about it. You may also tell them, if appropriate, that you wish to have this conversation about knowing Christ even if they are not interested. You are asking them to listen, even if it is only out of respect for you.

Although conversion is a sovereign act of God, He uses people to sow the seed. Until you try, you do not know what will happen. And you do not know what the gospel seed may do later if it is sown in their lives now. Don’t expect that you will have all the answers for them, or that you will do a great job at speaking the truth. You will likely fumble about a bit. But God has always condescended to our imperfections when doing His work through us.

Copyright © 2006 Jim Elliff. Permission granted for electronic reproduction in exact form. All other uses require written permission

For evangelistic materials by Jim Elliff, especially Pursuing God-A Seeker’s Guide, and Wasted Faith (a tool to for examining false versus truth faith), visit http://www.CCWonline.org.

www.CCWonline.org

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I would say I have heard some guys who preach very well. I would say I have heard some guys who preach excellently. I would even dare to say that there are some exceptional men out there. But I think I have heard the best in my lifetime. His name is Dr. Arturo Azurdia III and I may be stoned by Piper and MacArthur fans for saying this, but this brother is the coldest I have ever, ever heard. His use of the languages and Christocentric style is unbelievable. I posted this because I didn’t want to keep it to myself. A brother name Cedric Clark gave me the site and put me on to him over the past weekend. I wouldn’t even dare to say, you don’t need an explanation once you have heard him preach. You get up, walk out, go home and employ the clear teaching to your life. This is how concise He is. I have spent the last couple of days putting his sermons on my IPOD and there are hours of available teachings out there. I am currently listening to Family Affairs and have been so convicted that I wanted to turn it off. But I was compelled to listen. I am that much more responsible for responding biblically. Enough said. Listen to some sermons. I would start with the one called “New Covenant” I think you can go anywhere from there. I am going to invite some friends over just to take notes and listen to some other sermons in the coming weeks. Here is the link: Spirit Empowered Preaching. Enjoy

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I have been studying through the different systems of theology as some of you may know. To add to my New Covenant studies I have considered an Amill perspective. I have been reading a few articles and listening to some sermons and lectures on the subject. I wanted to share with you Dr. Kim Riddlebarger’s Academy lecture series which started a couple of weeks ago. The link to the audio files is here titled “Amillennialism 101” and the picture is a book that he wrote on the subject which is actually the text book used for the the lecture series and is called “A Case for Amillennialism: Understanding the End Times .  Another book that Dr. Riddlebarger recommends is called “The Bible and the Future” by Anthony A. Hoekema which I may read after reading through Dr. Riddlebarger’s work. Anyway let me know what you think and if you would like to study through some of this with me.

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Lets start with the High Priestly prayer in John 17:

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

(more…)

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